Dre to Pay $1.5M for "High"

Jury says 1999 track takes too much from Fatback hit

May 8, 2003 12:00 AM ET

A federal jury in Los Angeles recommended Tuesday that rapper and producer Dr. Dre pay a British music publishing company $1.5 million for appropriating parts of the 1980 Fatback hit "Backstrokin'" for "Let's Get High," from Dre's album 2001. The songs are built on similar six-note funk bass lines, Dre's slowed to a tempo more suited to the follow-up to his gangsta rap masterpiece The Chronic.

"Backstrokin'," from the 1980 album Hotbox, was Fatback's highest-climbing single. Written by bassist Johnny Flippin and drummer Bill Curtis, it reached Number Three on the R&B chart in 1980. Fatback, a funk collective originally known as the Fatback Band, also made one of the first rap singles ever with their 1979 hit "King Tim III (Personality Jock)."

Minder Music, the London-based company that controls the rights to "Backstrokin'," was intially seeking $3.5 million in damages. Lawyers for Dr. Dre maintain the similarities between the two tracks -- Dre wrote "High" with Eminem and others -- are unintentional, and say they plan to appeal the decision if the judge approves the jury's recommendation.

Dr. Dre's 2001 has sold more than six million copies in the U.S.

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